Brandon Canfield’s introduction to the food industry came about during college, simply to make money. His first job? Washing dishes. Then serving. And then, he says, one day he looked into the kitchen and realized “they’re having more fun.”
So he left college, after more than three years there, to devote time to food. “It was how I could express my love to other people,” he says. He likened it to a grandmother’s cooking. “It was so good because there was so much love in it.”
He studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City and then worked for the best chefs he could find. Ultimately he returned to Indiana University to finish that degree. He was close in two disciplines and chose psychology over physics with the thought of tying it to food. And he took business classes.
Then came four years in the San Francisco area where he worked for “the hardest kitchens I could find, … kitchens that were chasing the stars.” It was stressful. And then, through a cookbook, he discovered a rustic, simple way of approaching food and found beauty in it. “I can do this,” he thought.
A return to the Midwest, with a stop in Chicago for a while, led him to Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville four years ago. This organic legend that started with grass-fed dairy cows and award-winning cheeses less than 15 years ago has become an all-around superstar in healthy, organic, sustainable dining. The Loft restaurant, which opened in 2006 to offer “the very best from the farm,” has been continually upping its own ante for a decade now, fusing a growing variety of organically-grown foods with top chef know-how.
Canfield’s joy in his surroundings is evident as he speaks of “corn and tomatoes like my grandfather grew” right outside his door. The Traders Point farm, now more than 400 acres, provides a healthy percentage of the restaurant’s fare – freshly-picked produce, grass-fed dairy products from milk to beef, whey-fed pork, pastured chicken and eggs. “We respect everything that goes on here,” Canfield says. “We bring the outside in. The restaurant is the showcase for all that is Traders Point. The food itself is happy.”
A big part of the restaurant’s success, he claims, is the staff. “Without the people, your product’s not going to be good,” he says. His training – he calls it “coaching” – helps create what he calls “a choreographed ballet.”
“My biggest joy is when it’s busy. A lot of people, a din in the restaurant, a symphony of noise in the dining room, a hush in the kitchen. It’s a huge ballet.”
For more information, visit http://www.tpforganics.com.